On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care. A Different Service Delivery Approach


Two of the programs visited, A Second Chance in Pittsburgh and Edgewood's Kinship Support Network in San Francisco, offer interesting examples of how community-based organizations can work alongside the traditional child welfare and TANF agencies to provide comprehensive services for kinship care families. Both are private agencies with contracts from public child welfare agencies. In Pittsburgh, A Second Chance employs a strength-based approach, focusing on the positive rather than negative aspects of a child's extended family. Staff also stress the cultural responsiveness of their service delivery model. Staff defer to the kinship triad (the child, birth parent, and kinship caregiver), and build services around the client. For example, staff will modify their workday to accommodate a family's schedule. Staff also stress that kin can make the difference for their own family unit, families are the change agents, staff merely facilitate. A Second Chance program also focuses on reunification with the birth parent; 60 percent of kinship care children in the program return home within six months of placement. The program involves birth parents extensively.

In San Francisco, Edgewood's Kinship Support Network aims to provide services to kinship families that are not intrusive, building upon families' strengths, and involving families in planning for their children. The overriding objective is to keep families together if at all possible. After an assessment of needs, case management is provided if it appears that the caregiver would benefit from the individualized attention and support. The program has no limit on the amount of time caregivers can receive case management and the length of time varies by individual. The Kinship Support Network's model recognizes that caregivers' situations and circumstances are dynamic and there may be periods after case management has ended when it makes sense to reassign a case manager.

Many of the Kinship Support Network's case managers are kin caregivers themselves. In the early years of the program, virtually all of the case managers were kin caregivers who shared the same socioeconomic and demographic characteristics as the participants. This model, in which staff understand what the families are going through because they have been through some of the same experiences, promotes an empathetic and trusting relationship between caregiver and case manager.


24. We have very limited information on the support services provided by subsidized guardianship programs, but do note that many provide some support services beyond finanicial payment.